By Sherrie Norris
For nearly a century on the fourth Sunday of every June — with very few exceptions — MacRae Meadows of Grandfather Mountain in Linville has welcomed thousands of visitors to Singing on the Mountain.
It is with great sadness that the event’s board of directors has announced that Sunday, June 26, will mark not only the 96th year of the Singing, but also the end of the gathering.
Known as the longest-held event of its kind in the area, and possibly in the state and nation, Singing on the Mountain was founded by Joseph Larkin Hartley in 1924. Attracting such noted personalities as Billy Graham, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash and countless others through the years, the gathering was known far and wide, Hartley’s family shared, as “a great time of gospel singing, good food and fellowship . . . always held in a spirit of faith and community where all were welcomed.”
Many folks through the years marked their calendars months in advance and wouldn’t think of missing the singing. In the early days, even the beds of farm wagons and trucks were loaded with families, church and community groups who traveled together from miles around and spent the entire day on the mountain.
Kenny Hartley, speaking on behalf of the Hartley family and the board of directors, shared, “This final event will be a simple celebration of Granddaddy and his legacy, and a thank you to all the loyal folks who made the Singing possible for many years, including dedicated singers, musicians, those who parked cars, brought food, cleaned up the grounds, set up the stage, provided utilities, security, safety and rescue personnel. This has truly been a labor of love for our family and many others.”
Following years of support from Grandfather Mountain, in 2017, the Singing On The Mountain Foundation was formed.
Under the leadership of Kenny Hartley, the Hartley descendants were able to make sure the Singing took place for 95 years — the number of years of life for Joseph Larkin Hartley, who was born in 1871. The decision to end the Singing was not an easy one, the family shared, made after much consideration.
Likely the longest gathering of its kind in America, the theme was always “whosoever will may come” and the glory always given to the Lord, Jesus Christ, they said.
Hartley added, “We will have a family reunion, as we always do, and invite others who come to bring a picnic lunch and lawn chairs for their families, as well. “
Special guests for the day will include those who have been vital to the singing through the years, including Michael Combs and The Cockman Family, joined by Dave Calvert Collective, New Covenant and others to be announced.
The Hartley family invites the public to join them for a day, of praise to the Lord “at the base of His beautiful mountain in MacRae Meadows,” in Linville, June 26, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
“And help us to honor those who came before us and made a memorable mark inspiring so many lives. You never know how planting a small seed of faith may grow beyond your wildest dreams.”
The elder Hartley’s descendants share that, near the end of his life, he had this to say, “I have scattered seeds of kindness and conjured smiles of joy.”
And, many years later they implore others, “ Let’s all go now and continue to scatter those seeds of kindness, conjure smiles of joy, and keep the Singing in our hearts.”
High Country Press will provide updates for this farewell event as they become available, as well as a historical review of the event in early June.
For more information, visit http://singingonthemountain.org